The Leap of Faith … a Belgiam Malinois jumps off a set of stairs falling 27+ feet to land on concrete! [Video of her view below.]
On January 6, 2017 when Gaia, a Belgiam Malinois, jumped over a retaining wall and fell 27+ feet ... I was despirately waiting for her preparing to run an agility Jumpers coarse at the show in Harriman, TN. while Natalie went to get her. I was running Tayt in his standard run and Natalie went to get Gaia — the runs were one right after the other. It had snowed in Harriman that evening so there was a chill in the air. That add chilliness, with the fact that Gaia gets super excited after she poops, she must of felt like superwoman or something, as she headed my way.
Natalie allowed her to go ahead of her up the steps to get to where we were crating the dogs (watch video below). She let go of the leash as I have done repeatedly assuming she would stop on top to wait for the door to open letting her in from the cool weather.
As soon as the leash was out of her hands, Natalie started up the first set of steps behind Gaia — there are two sets of 13 steps. Natalie never got to that first landing when she looked up the second set of steps to see Gaia’s butt as she continued forward and jumped over the retaining wall on the top landing.
Gaia jumped over a retaining wall 5 blocks + high and landed 27 blocks (give or take) later onto concrete! Yeah, concrete!!
Natalie screamed “No!!!” as she quickly ran around the steps to see Gaia! Gaia was then standing there looking up as to say, “augh, what a jump!!!?”
By that time, I had just finished running Tayt and was looking for Natalie and Gaia. Gaia, jumping a standard height of 24,” was the first dog in her Novice JWW class. As I was anxious to get her on my end, Natalie picked Gaia up outside and was heading to find me. An agility show has people walking around, pottying their dogs, etc. but at this point no one was around to help Natalie with this 64 lbs. dog. With no one was in sight … this process felt like minutes upon hours until she finally got Gaia inside to notify me as to what happened.
As I finally saw Natalie inside, she was standing with Gaia … I wave her to me … “Come on, I’m next” was my gesture. She waved to me just as I waved to her … “She jumped off the steps!” In my perspective, I’ve seen her jump off the front porch steps several times, so I was silently saying “So!” and waved her to come in further towards me. Natalie just kept waving to me to come to her … “she jumped off the steps” and waved me to come to her again. That process took forever in my mind because I wanted to get her in where the agility courses were and settled before I had to run.
It took Natalie now yelling at me several times with larger hand motions as if she was talking to a person who couldn’t hear before I caught on. “Holy Crap!” then I saw the blood beneath her nose for the first time. My stomach sank immediately because I thought it was internal damages … “Oh man, she’s bleeding from her nose!” By that time the on-site veterinarian had come over.
As I looked closer and as the vet was examining her, we both noticed that the blood was coming from her chin. “Thank you, God!” The veterinarian didn’t find anything major … unbelievable!!
Natalie ran to get the truck and we quickly went to Roane Veterinary Hospital [roaneveterinaryhospital.com] where Dr. Rebecca Wierschem was on top of everything - very pleasant and professional. Never did I feel she was profiled and deemed a dangerous dog. The vet assistance did great and doctor went to town feeling every aspect of her body. Gaia took it all in stride and allow just about everything — even x-rays. I never doubted their professionalism or capability. I placed Gaia in their hands with ease and comfort. I truly think she knew she was getting taken care of and allowed them to do all their tests.
After having some horrifying trips to the emergency vet clinic, my experience at Roame Veterinary Hospital was one of my best experiences I have ever had - owning personal dogs nearly 30 years. Maybe it was because she was okay. Nothing major was wrong. --- Right … a guardian angel caught her.
The video above shows the blood from Gaia’s chin. She didn’t suffer any broken bones. The x-rays confirmed that as well as the thorough vet check. What they found was:
—A chipped bottom left canine tooth
—Superficially scratched her right eye
—Scrapped her chin
—Sprained her left front leg — she was limping pretty bad.
That night Susan and Judy showed me how to use their cold lazer and I truly think it made a tremendous difference in her left shoulder/leg recovery. For that I say: “Thank you!!” I also took her to the chiropractor on Saturday, January 7th as well as Beverly at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Massage [www.blueridgetheramassage.com] and everyone said she is very lucky.
We are not going back to that show this year — maybe next year.
Simply writing this brings back the same knot, but less intense.
The videos below shows her walking around at the vet office on January 9th — 3-days after her leap of faith. The root canal research is another story for another day. I learned a lot about how Gaia, in particular, feels pain and determined that she is a machine. It may be part of the Belgiam Malinois breed, but her pain tolerance must be high or her tooth really didn’t need a root canal.
A little history about Gaia
Gaia was found tied to a Walmart lamp post when she was about 6-months of age (?) and fell into my lap after she regained her strength, gained some weight and was adopted by an awesome family who couldn’t handle her at that particular time of their lives. She came home with me as a K9 Camper at first and eventually came home with me for good about a month later. I made her birthday January 1 since I didn’t know her real birthday. Now a year later, she is 4 years old. She is a blessing and surprises me with her athleticism all the time.
In 2018, Quinn_nearing 14yo, Tayt_6yo, Gaia_4yo and I ... a lot older are taking a different leap of faith. As A Good Dog’s Life transitions into AGDL Training Center, I am forming WNC K9 [wnck9.com] and will be holding classes for the first time not as A Good Dog’s Life, but as WNC K9. I’m more excited about this leap of faith and will never forget Gaia’s leap ... as she continues to run agility jumping 20" ... you would never know this ever happened.
I pray that we all have a guardian angel watching over us as the year progresses. Thanks for reading. God Bless!
A Scottie's Agility Journey! By Carol Vaseleski.
In agility class today, Katie Kinross Shadowchaser was running a fun practice course with her usual Scottie smile shining brightly. She strutted over the dog walk, turned and ran through the tunnel, took two jumps and left me in the dust when I sent her to the teeter. The teeter looks and acts like a playground seesaw. As the dog runs, it pivots on the center line so the side that was down goes up and the other side goes down. She scaled it and rode it down as the rest of the class cheered. You may ask “why?” Dogs do that every day. The answer is that Katie had not gone over a teeter for almost eighteen months.
Katie’s agility story began as her formal obedience story ended. After years of training and having fun at obedience and rally trials, Katie had stopped getting excited as we entered the ring. At our last trial, she stopped midway through the heeling pattern, sat down and scratched. She ignored my encouragement as I urged her back to action. I concluded that this was no longer fun for her, so we retired. When we both got bored, I decided to try agility. We discovered a whole new world of speed, challenges, and fun.
Agility training is different from obedience and rally training, though all three can be fun. Obedience and rally rely on handler focus, with the dog responding quickly and precisely to commands. Rewards are usually dispensed from the trainer’s hand for closer and closer approximations of perfection. Agility requires both handler and obstacle focus. Rewards are dispensed frequently to build drive and are usually provided at the point of success, not directly from the handler. This way, the dog associates the reward with its own actions regarding the obstacle, not with the handler. The dog relies on the handler to set the course (where to go) and on its own trained experience to complete each obstacle (what to do). This was a difficult transition for me after years of obedience training. Katie embraced it immediately. Other lessons were more subtle. I learned to be positive and appreciate Katie’s efforts. Katie learned it is more fun to connect with me and run a course than to dash around the ring by herself. I learned humility when I realized that every time she went off course it was my fault because I sent her there. We both learned that mistakes are just an opportunity to do better the next time. I had to learn to communicate with her without talking because she is very fast and I am quite slow. I could not talk and breathe and run at the same time. I had to rely on being where I could talk to her with the silent languages of hand signals, position, and movement. At trials, we qualified most of the time. We always had fun. Then, we had an unfortunate accident.
One Christmas, we got a practice teeter that Katie and I could use in the basement during cold weather. The teeter was her least favorite piece of equipment, so we worked on enjoying it. Progress was slow and steady, but she still merely tolerated it. One day, I slipped and fell against the teeter as Katie was at the pivot point. It collapsed on top of me. She fortunately rolled off the other side onto a rug. I screamed “NO” as I fell. She thought I was yelling at her. The perfect storm of training disasters had struck!
Fortunately, agility has some events that do not include the teeter, so we kept training and attending trials. We also embarked on a search for someone to help us get back on the teeter. Class and trainer number one advised me to buy really smelly treats and to place them along the teeter. I held her collar and lured her up one side and down the other while the trainer ensured that it did not move too quickly. Katie dearly loves treats, so she followed the trail. She did not enjoy this experience and did not learn anything. Class and trainer number two, our friend Gail Hubbard, offered a different solution. We isolated the scary parts of the teeter experience and created baby steps to address each one, one at a time. We played games by sending her up the teeter without allowing it to move and giving her lots of tiny treats one at a time when she got to the end. Then, we allowed it to move about an inch and did the same thing. Then, we ended the session at the beginning, just to ensure success. More inches followed until she was riding it down without trying to jump off. Many weeks later, the teeter dropped on its own about halfway down, landing on a blanket so there was no noise. Then, we introduced the noise. During this process, various members of the class would cheer her on to greater glory. Almost a year later, she jumped those jumps in practice and ran the teeter all by herself. The best part was seeing her actually enjoy the experience.
Agility is a challenge, a bonding experience and a thrilling game you can play with your dog. Our journey included a backyard class run by some friends who competed in agility. We moved to specialized classes at an agility training school and lots of practice in our backyard and basement. It’s amazing how much you can learn with three or four jumps and a tunnel. If you decide to take a journey of your own with your best friend, find a good trainer who can get you started safely, with a good foundation on basic skills. Whether you continue by yourself in your backyard, with friends in class, or at trials, you’ll never lose if you don’t give up. Each training session and each run is a new experience and a chance to learn.
This article originally appeared in the Bagpiper Magazine and is reprinted with permission of the author. Thanks Carol.